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ויגוע וימת אברהם בשיבה טובה זקן ושבע

And Avraham expired and died at a good old age, mature and content. (25:8)

The perfection and wholesomeness in life which Sarah Imeinu achieved was also merited by Avraham Avinu. Horav Yechezkel Levinstein, zl, would refer to Avraham Avinu’s life as zate’ teg, days for which he was content and satisfied, knowing that he had lived every moment of his life in accordance with the ratzon, will, of Hashem. One hundred seventy-five years: thirty days a month, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. He did not waste a moment of his life. When one lives in such a manner, leaving this world is merely crossing over to the next world. The Chafetz…

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ויקם אברהם מעל פני מתו וידבר אל בני חת

Avraham rose up from the presence of his dead and spoke to bnei Cheis. (23:3)

The Torah is circumspect concerning its text, spelling of each word and overall locution. No word is superfluous, no spelling is ignored. Chazal derive volumes of halachah from every nuance, every seeming redundancy. As the message of its Divine Author, nothing in the Torah is to be taken capriciously. As such, it is intriguing to note that the words, bnei Cheis (children of Cheis), are mentioned nine times in our parshah and once in Parashas Vayechi (49:32). It is not as if these were laudable people. They were idolaters who were greedy and selfish – among other things. Yet, the…

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ויהיו חיי שרה מאה שנה ועשרים שנה ושבע שנים

Sarah’s lifetime was one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years. (23:1)

Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 58:3) relate an intriguing story. Rabbi Akiva was giving a profound, intricate shiur, lecture. He noticed that his students were drifting off. In order to arouse them from their “slumber,” he presented them with a question (more like a riddle): Why did Esther merit to reign over 127 countries? He answered: She was a descendant of Sarah Imeinu who had lived 127 years. The question is rhetorical; the answer is beguiling. What does one have to do with the other? It is not as if Esther actually reigned over 127 countries. She was married to King Achashveirosh…

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ותאמר שתה וגם גמליך אשקה

And she said, “Drink, and I will even water your camels.” (24:46)

Rivkah is lauded for her incredible sensitivity and kindness in offering water to Eliezer. This was the finishing touch upon which her selection to be Yitzchak Avinu’s wife was predicated. Imagine, someone has been wearily trudging through the sun-baked wilderness. His throat is parched; he is sweating profusely. He badly needs water. Would the person who reaches out to him with a jug of water be considered especially kind or, simply a decent human being? Horav Eliyahu Dushnitzer, zl, explains that Rivkah’s greatness shone forth when she offered to water the camels as well. Eliezer had asked for a drink…

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ואבוא היום אל העין

“I came today to the spring.” (24:42)

Rashi comments, “Today I embarked, and today I arrived.” This teaches us that, “kaftzah lo ha’aretz, the earth contracted for him, allowing for his journey to be miraculously shortened.” Apparently, it was critical to seal the match that day since Hashem had caused a miracle to occur in order to bring both sides together in the most expeditious manner. Horav Shlomo Levenstein, zl, offers a practical reason for Eliezer’s hastened arrival: A shidduch was presented to the distinguished rav of a community regarding his son: the daughter of a wealthy businessman who lived in a different city. The prospective father-in-law…

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ואומר אל אדני אלי לא תלך האשה אחרי

And I said to my master, “Perhaps the woman will not follow me?” (24:39)

Rashi notes that the word u’lai, perhaps, is usually spelled with a vov. Here it is spelled without a vov, which allows for the three letters, aleph, lamed, yud to be read as eilai, to me. By using this (three letter) spelling, the Torah seeks to convey Eliezer’s personal hope. He, too, had a daughter whom he would have loved to marry off to Yitzchak. Therefore, when Eliezer asked Avraham what to do if by chance the girl refused to go with him, he was not simply asking a question; but rather hoping that she would not return with him….

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קבר אברהם את שרה אשתו אל מערת שדה המכפלה... היא חברון

Avraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpeilah… which is Chevron. (23:19)

The Meoras Ha’Machpeilah is the final resting place of four couples: Adam/Chavah; Avraham/Sarah; Yitzchak/Rivkah; Yaakov/Leah. As such, it is sacred ground which no one has penetrated and returned to report about. There was, however, one person who went, entered and even, exited – Horav Avraham Azulai, zl, author of the Chesed L’Avraham, great-grandfather of the Chida, zl. The story took place in 1643, in the city of Chevron. The sultan of the Ottoman Empire decided to visit the many places of distinction that were part of his vast empire. Chevron, which is home to the Meoras Ha’Machpeilah, was one of…

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ויבאה יצחק האהלה שרה אמו ויקח את רבקה ותהי לו לאשה ויאהבה וינחם יצחק אחרי אמו

And Yitzchak brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother; he married Rivkah; she became his wife, and he loved her; and thus was Yitzchak consoled after his mother. (24:67)

The Ramban observes that Yitzchak Avinu’s love for Rivkah Imeinu was inspired by her righteousness and the suitability of her maasim tovim, good deeds, which are the only criteria upon which the Torah predicates the love between husband and wife. This is the only form of love that is enduring. Targum Onkeles interprets the pasuk: “When he/Yitzchak saw that her/Rivkah’s actions were similar to those of Sarah, his mother – v’nasiv es Rivkah, he married Rivkah.” Yitzchak’s decision to marry Rivkah, to have her become Klal Yisrael’s second Matriarch, was grounded on her spiritual similarity to his mother. He sought…

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אנכי בדרך נחני ד'

As for me, Hashem has guided me on the way. (24:27)

How often do we become frustrated with a situation or a person, to the point that we wonder what is it that Hashem is asking of us? Eliezer was sent on a mission, an impossible mission: to find a suitable mate for Yitzchak (Avinu). Yitzchak was raised by Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu. He was the Olah Temimah, perfect sacrifice. The world “out there” was pagan-oriented, with no moral/ethical compass and even less of a spiritual focus. If Avraham sends, Eliezer goes. The lodestar that guided and maintained him was, Anochi baderech nachani Hashem;“As for me, Hashem has guided me…

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אשר לא תקח אשה לבני מבנות הכנעני ... כי אל ארצי ואל מולדתי תלך ולקחת אשה לבני ליצחק

That you not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanim… Rather, to my land and to my kindred shall you go and take a wife for my son, for Yitzchak. (24:3,4)

The moral profligacy that reigned in Canaan overrode the spiritual perversion that prevailed in Charan. As the D’Rashos HaRan explains, it is possible to penetrate the mind of he who is spiritually perverse, because idolatry is a philosophical issue which can be addressed rationally, so that the individual can understand how his logic has been twisted. In contrast, the moral degeneracy of the Canaanim is more difficult to counter, because the degeneracy becomes imbedded in the psyche of the individual, so that he is unable to comprehend anything outside of his established belief system. Horav Boruch Dov Povarsky, Shlita, supplements…

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